Merkel gives new push for eurozone reforms ahead of European Union summit

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Italy's new populist government has suggested it could ask the European Central Bank (ECB) to forgive 250 billion euros ($300 billion) of Italian public debt.

Milan's stock index opened up 2.5 percent.

The German Chancellor also said she agreed with French President Emmanuel Macron's idea for a European intervention force with a "common strategic military culture", opening the door to a more active defense role for Germany. "Nothing will stop the return of the people to the stage of history!"

Merkel supported the idea of turning the euro zone's ESM rescue fund into a European Monetary Fund (EMF) with powers to give members hit by sovereign debt troubles short-term credit lines.

Macron wants to turn Europe's existing bailout fund into a European Monetary Fund (EMF), to act as a buffer in any future financial crises in the bloc, which was almost torn apart in a debt crisis in 2009.

Merkel refrained from outright criticism of Trump in her comments to the newspaper, but noted that the USA has withdrawn from multilateral agreements and imposed new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including from Europe.

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"We aim to make ourselves a little more independent of the International Monetary Fund", she said.

Merkel also said that a future EMF would be organized on an intergovernmental basis and national parliaments of member countries would have oversight.

Merkel backed the step-by-step introduction of a euro zone investment budget in the low double-digit billions of euros, saying this could be housed within the European Union budget or outside.

She said she views Macron's idea of a joint intervention force "positively", but that many details would have to be worked out.

For example, he is calling for the creation a eurozone budget and a eurozone finance minister.

Mr Conte, a little-known 53-year-old law professor, was sworn in on Friday.

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